A Season of Grief

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I last posted on this blog on August 5, 2019, with joy and gratitude for the positive changes that were happening in my life at that time. I had just started freelancing full time again, my fiancé and I had just moved into a new house that we had renovated. And life—after a couple of challenging years—finally seemed like it was starting to move in a positive direction.

Little did I know that my father would fall and break his hip fourteen days after I wrote that last blog post. In two weeks' time, our lives turned upside-down. My father ended up in the hospital with a broken hip. Due to underlying health issues, the surgeon was unable to operate on my father's hip. So he ended up in a rehab facility and started a regimen of physical therapy. The hope was that my father would be able to return home at some point. But that's not what happened. Bed-bound and in constant pain, my father's decline was rapid. After another trip to the hospital and the deterioration of other underlying health conditions, my father made the tough decision to enter Hospice. One month later, on Thanksgiving Day, my father died.

After my father's fall, my fiancé (now husband) and I made the difficult decision to sell the house we had just renovated. We then moved nearly an hour away into my father's condo so we could be closer to him during his last days. It was the right decision, but it was a painful one. Our friends and our entire support system also was now about one hour south of us.

I was freelancing at the time, but after my father passed I found it difficult to remain at home all day—particularly since we had moved into my father's condo and there were reminders of him everywhere. So I decided to search for a job to get out of the house during the day.

After a brief job search, I began working in a call center for a health insurance company. The work got me out of the house, gave me something else to focus on, and I was able to directly help a lot of people. As you can imagine, few people are happy when they call their insurance company. So working in a health insurance company's call center as a customer service representative is a very stressful job. But the job kept me busy for eight hours a day, five days a week. I barely had time for anything, including grieving. The job also provided health insurance (although the hourly pay was dismally low), and I was able to directly help people solve their problems. At first, the work was very rewarding. 

And then the pandemic hit.  

My mother, living in a nursing home at the time, contracted Covid. Still a fighter at eighty-three years old, she survived. But her decline was rapid. She already had vascular dementia, and Covid led to further decline.

Unable to visit her for more than a year, I did everything I could to keep her spirits up. Every time I showed up for a window visit, I brought gifts, her favorite snacks, and a card. Sometimes we would talk on the phone at the same time. But eventually she forgot how to use the phone and grew increasingly confused and weak. So much so that when staff brought the gift bag in, she did not know how to open anything anymore

One day this past spring, I showed up to the nursing home unannounced and my mother was sitting in her wheelchair, wearing nothing but an adult diaper and a T-shirt. Confused, she was staring at the wall—seemingly watching people pass by. I was livid.

Shortly after, I spoke to the head nurse and we reached an agreement. My mother needed Hospice. But I was told I would be unable to visit her until she was actively dying. At least there would be more people checking in on her more often if she was approved for Hospice care. And she was. 

Miraculously, the day she was approved, the nursing home announced that they were again allowing visitors if they were vaccinated and showed no signs of Covid.

Our reunion was tear-filled. It was so good to hug my mother again.

But our time together was short-lived. Just shy of one month later, I got that dreaded call early one morning. "Your mother is actively dying, and we think you need to get here right away." That morning I was supposed to take my husband to the hospital for a medical test. He had a friend take him instead and urged me to hurry up so that I could be with my mother in her final hours.

Fortunately, I had time to hold her hand, tell her I loved her, read Scripture to her, and sing some of her favorite hymns. The Hospice nurse arrived with the social worker. The three of us sat at my mother's bedside while my mother passed from this life into the next. 

So here we are at the holiday season. This year, I will be taking Thanksgiving dinner to the staff and people at the Hospice house where my father passed two years ago. But it is too soon to visit my mother's nursing home this year. Maybe next year.

My father's favorite Bible verse was John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."

By the time my parents passed from this life on earth into eternal life, I knew they were spiritually ready for the transition. 

The last song my mother sang to me (just like she used to do when I was a little girl) was "All for Jesus." When she sang that to me, just a couple of days before she died, I left the nursing home in tears. But I knew that she was in the right place.

This holiday season, my grief over the loss of both parents is still raw. 

But I know that love never dies.

And I know that some day, I will be reunited with them when I, too, will be born into eternal life.

If you are grieving this holiday season as I am, be gentle with yourself. 

God bless you,

Jenny







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